BROOKLYN, New York — 50 Cent's first time directing a music video is not going to be a tense occasion. Sure, a water leak is setting the production of singer Olivia's "Twist It" back about an hour, but Fif, O, Tony Yayo and the song's co-star, Lloyd Banks, can't keep the smiles off their faces.
"50 came in here with a blazer this morning and a collared shirt," Olivia, sitting between Banks and the G-Unit members, laughed.
"I was dressed up," 50 said with a grin. "The cops be following me and I be putting on my non-controversial negro look. 'Listen, officer, it wasn't me. I don't know these n---as. I don't know 'em.' "
"I love it," Olivia, guest performer on 50's "Candy Shop," exclaimed. "No, he didn't say that!"
Later the G-Unit guys shifted their banter to jewelry, with 50 taking off a diamond ring, bracelet and cross and saying the jewels belonged to Yayo.
"You know what time it is. I ain't even gotta say much," Yayo responded when it came time for him to talk about the small fortune in ice around his neck. "I gotta do stretches before I put my chain on. My neck be heavy and my wrist be heavy."
Lloyd Banks is so jovial when it comes to showing off his shines, he started singing the "Hokey Pokey": "You put your right arm in, you take your right arm out."
All this fun and it's only the first day of shooting.
"This is day one of Olivia's 'Twist It' video featuring Lloyd Banks, directed by me! So that means I ain't paying nobody," 50 explained. Later, during lunch, 50 explained why he took a stab at being an auteur.
"I've done 17 music videos in three years," he said while Olivia was off changing in her dressing room and Banks and Yayo were roaming around. "I've gotten the chance to work with some of the best video directors out there. Jessy Terrero, Benny Boom, Little X, Chris Robinson, a lot of directors. I picked up a lot. I learn better hands-on than I do reading a book. So actually being on the set, it's cool. This time I got the right people involved, I got storyboards, so I know everything I need shot-by-shot."
"I know he wants everything done perfectly," Olivia said, "and I love it. I love that he supports me so much."
Not only does 50 make videos, he said he watches other artists' clips all day long, so he's ready. "It's a performance video," he said of "Twist It." "I wanted to have some real transitions for you to go from one thing to the next instead of just cutting to next portion of the dance sequence. I've got three really nice setups. I think it's gonna come across really well."
50's hands-on approach covers everything from setting up scenes to advising the sexy performer on her dance steps. "He tells everybody, 'I did that!' " Olivia beamed when asked about 50's critiquing of her moves. "He'll tell everybody the moves I'm doing, he thought of that."
"Nah," 50 laughed when asked if he was getting his Debbie Allen on and choreographing moves. "I came to the actual practice, I say something that I think is cool, but you know I don't dance."
50 has shown more acumen when it comes to running a label (see "50 Cent Wants To Sign Mobb Deep, M.O.P. To G-Unit Records"). The Massacre made sales history, Tony Yayo has the number one song in New York, and Fif feels his impact on R&B will be no less than it has been on hip-hop.
"People underestimate me. That allows me to stay a step ahead of them," 50 said.
Olivia has been running with the G-Unit since last year. After signing directly to Interscope, 50's manger, Chris Lighty, approached the singer about joining the thugsters, who mostly hail from Queens. O, from Queens as well, decided to join after one conversation with 50 Cent.
50 was convinced after Olivia was able to pen two songs in 10 minutes. While recording her debut, Behind Closed Doors, due July 19, Fif encouraged her to make the music she wanted and didn't even require the singer to have an A&R rep. Dr. Dre, Robert Smith and Brian Cox are among the producers on the album.